Former President CJA International Message for World Press Freedom Day 2020

  Tougher and Better by the Decade


Murray Burt PIc Newspaper journalism is a much tougher career now than when I joined the profession as a teenage cadet reporter in the late 1940’s in Dunedin, New Zealand.   And today it is also winning much more approval and but harsher bullying.

I though it was tough then.   It seemed tougher much later when I worked on Fleet Street, London.  But it was exciting – thrilling indeed – and we all loved that.

I left the profession after a year there and became a sailor on a 45 foot sailboat that I helped sail in the Mediterranean for a year before a trans-Atlantic crossing to the West Indies.

From there, young friends in North America called and I headed for Toronto, Canada. I sailed there for a while looking for a newspaper job.    I returned to the newspaper world as a junior reporter at the Times-Herald, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.   Love and marriage intruded, I became a Canadian,  and I moved  back east to become City Editor at the St Catharines Standard, Ontario, where my gorgeous wife delivered a daughter and son.   Coincidentally, our daughter is now living in Pakistan.

News in  journalism was tougher at this larger paper  and we rattled a few heads of institutions in my time there.    I made the point we were not in the popularity game.

This was confirmed for me when one of the best newspapers in Canada, the Globe and Mail, hired me away for a fine improvement in income and newspaper status.    I moved my family to Toronto and accepted a newsroom desk job.   That eventually led to my promotion to City Editor, followed by a transfer by management to Winnipeg 10 years later to become  Managing Editor of the Winnipeg Free Press.

In all these moves, journalism became grittier and worthwhile, tougher on authorities, civic administrations and wayward businesses.

I retired from a highly respected newspaper and I am happy to report  that today, it is  tougher than ever before with a conscience for the public good.   It was 20 years ago that I retired and the press has become better year by year since as it fights for the rights of the community it proudly serves.

I have stayed linked, admiring how my profession becomes tougher and better as the years slip by.  It takes a certain bravery to sustain that toughness.   The grit of journalism which comes at such a price in  lives lost, especially in Pakistan,  is a worthy measure of that.   True grit and professional  quality.


Murray Burt

Former  President

Commonwealth Journalists Association

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada




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